The mutual problem of Christians and feminists is this: Everyone judges them by their fringe elements. For example, many non-Christians think of hatred of non-Christians as a hallmark of Christianity. And many men and women think that man-hating is pretty much all there is to feminism.

Now, in both cases, there is some truth to this. There are vehemently intolerant, hateful Christians who won't miss any chance to tell you that you're going to hell. And there are extremely reactionary feminists who believe that all men are evil and all sex is rape.

But these are the EXTREMES. Most Christians would be distressed by the man who stands on a street corner on my campus and screams at passersby. They might even tell you he's not really Christian by their own definition, which might include radical concepts such as love thy neighbor. And most feminists are irritated by the ranting women who constantly vilify men for no reason.

Now, in both cases, it seems likely that a lot of these extremists are simply people with unbalanced personalities, who have chosen religion or women's issues as their outlet for their own problems. They are not representatives of their movements. Why does everyone think they are?

Because it's better TV to talk about Bob Jones University than the other end of the spectrum, a Gnostic priest who believes in God the Mother, and especially better than the middle of the spectrum: the woman next door who rescues kittens and champions free speech and goes to church every Sunday. Who wants to hear about that? And we'd much rather hear about women who say English is an enslavement tool of verbal rape-bound men, than the woman who thinks men and women should learn from each other, or the man who thinks women should get equal pay. Yawn.

So you'll only see the colorful, the outrageous, the extreme; when there is really a huge spectrum with most feminists and Christians (and gay people, Muslims, black power advocates, on and on) falling in the MIDDLE.

The point of this is to remember that members of other controversial groups don't want to be judged by their most extreme members any more than you do.
The relationship between Christianity and feminism is a lot more complicated than any simple story can express. In fact, Christianity gained ground in ancient Rome because it appealed to women, especially widows who had wealth but no social class. At many points in history, women in religious life had far more influence and opportunity for leadership than anyone else in their societies. At other times, Christian attitudes toward sex and gender did reduce the rights of women in their societies.

There is no black-and-white way to characterize the complex relationship between Christianity and feminism; it's ambiguous and complex.

Ah, there is another mutual problem of Christians and feminists. Again it is their fringe elements who are responsible. Anyone who has been on a university campus in the past ten years will recognize it. Their problem is…

A propensity to disseminate false information about sex

You know, those flyers hanging on bulletin boards or poles.

Abstinence is the solution!
Take back the night

The Christian groups want young people not to have sex, and their flyer will invariably be filled with falsehoods intended to scare people into celibacy:

Condoms have been shown to be ineffective against HIV transmission

and so forth. These statements will often have a credible seeming source cited. My guess is that what they do is take a real finding way our of context. Like maybe the above statement was from a survey of IV drug users.

The feminist groups seem like to perpetuate the idea that men are sexual predators. I actually saw the following claim once:

Did you know? 20% of collegiate dates end in rape!

Again, a credible sounding source may be cited. But these and similar claims are obviously nonsense. There is a great diversity of feminist thought out there, but it seems that the most sex-negative, male-negative strains are the ones active on campuses.

This spreading of false information might attract the gullible to their ranks, but if feminist and Christian groups want to get the best and brightest, making themselves seem ridiculous in this way is a real problem.

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